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Platform

Wii

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Nintendo

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

April 27, 2008

 

 

- Anyone can play this

- Online play is really good, even without voice chat

- New tracks are great

- Three bikes and karts per character mixes it up

- Motion controls work okay, but don't feel as good as the more traditional controls

 

 

- A sideways step from Double-Dash, at best

- Power-ups like the Mega Mushroom and Bullet Bill are so over-powered that being in 1st Place is meaningless

 

 

Review: Mario Kart: Double-Dash (GC)

Review: Mario Kart DS (DS)

Review: Excite Truck (Wii)

 

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Mario Kart Wii

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

If you’re a fan of Mario Kart – from the SNES era to GameCube’s Double-Dash and all those iterations in-between – you’ve already played Mario Kart Wii without actually realizing it.  This reviewer was initially, and for many days after, severely disappointed with Mario Kart Wii for its seemingly lazy approach.

 

mario kart wii           mario kart wii

 

There are 32 tracks but half of them are simple rehashes of past Mario Kart tracks, with a tweak or two to better accommodate twelve racers at a time; the new power-ups are ridiculous to the point that you’ll actually want to aim for 2nd Place for most of the race because the guy in the lead will always get pounded; the characters, even the unlockable ones, don’t have the same allure of the variety of the Smash Bros. series (with the exception of your Mii); the Wii motion controls take a backseat to the more traditional approaches to the point that this reviewer recommends use of GameCube’s WaveBird controller for better accuracy and on-track control; the motorcycles, while a neat option to suit your mood don’t actually add that much; and finally, the name isn’t even vanilla – Mario Kart Wii?  Where’s the creativity?

 

Nintendo gets no free rides here – at worst, this is a downgrade from the finesse of Double-Dash and Mario Kart DS; at best, this represents a sidestep for the 

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Strangely enough, this reviewer gets the feeling this Mario Kart is not aimed at fans, even though the new tracks are really fun and the online play is surprisingly good.  (And just an aside, voice chat with Mario Kart DS, but not the Wii version?  Why?)

 

With all those matters working against Mario 

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Kart Wii, if you can forget about them you can actually have fun, which has been a hallmark of the franchise since the first game.  And it’s one of those titles that an eight-year old can compete with a thirty-year old and have no guarantee that age and experience will win out during the circuit races.  That’s good for new players, but it frustrated this reviewer.

 

The 3-minute Battle modes – Balloon Battle and Coin Runner – fair much better when it comes to outright skill.  With both modes, players need to have an understanding of how each arena is laid out to most efficiently grab coins or be in a position to pop your opponents balloons.  But even in the Battle modes, there’s been a “dumbing down” so no one feels bad.  In previous Mario Kart titles, if you popped all three of your opponent’s balloons you won.  With Mario Kart Wii when the three balloons are popped your opponent gets three more.  Popped balloons are tallied and the team that popped the most balloons wins.  That’s the other thing that doesn’t feel right – the Battle modes are all team based.  There’s no default head-to-head “deathmatch” mode available.  The number of a AI characters that fill in the roster – there are always 12 characters racing around – can be scaled down, so it’s a bit of a work-around, but a “Classic Battle” mode would have streamlined this.

 

In the end, Mario Kart Wii aims for a high level of fun and depending on how new you are to the franchise; it actually manages to do that.  There’s plenty of room for improvement though.  It’s just unfortunate that if Nintendo maintains its tradition surrounding its flagship titles (aside from Mario Party), this is the only Mario Kart game we’ll see on the Wii.

 

- Omni

(May 2, 2008)

 

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